Friday, August 23, 2013

E is for Earthquake!

http://www.pattywysong.com/2013/07/a-to-z-meme.html
This is the 5th  week of the A to Z blog meme. This weeks'  blog hop is sponsored by the letter "E". Click on the link below the  logo to read more about the meme.
 
Living in Southern California predisposes me to experience the periodic earthquakes that we are known for. There are daily rumbles below the earth's surface that we usually do not feel, but some times, there are  moderate rock and rollers. And then there are the ones that feel like you are riding in one of those dragon swings at the amusement park!
Seismograph photo: seismograph seismograph_show_tremor_md_wht.gif

 
My first memorable quake experience  occurred February 9, 1971.  It was about 6:00am and I was about to get up and get ready for high school. I don't remember much of the details  other that it really shook, and caused major damage where it was centered in Sylmar. It measured a Magnitude of 6.6 on the Richter Scale. I do remember that school was cancelled for the day! I lived in Rowland Heights at the time, and that was at least 50 miles away from the epicenter. One interesting note about this quake, was just the day or so before, my biology teacher was talking about earthquakes! It kind of freaked him out.
 
There were other smaller quakes in the following years, but nothing too significant, but when the Whittier Narrows Quake hit, that was a biggie! It occurred  at 7:42 am on Thursday, October 1,1987 and measured  5.9 on the Richter Scale. When it struck, I was at work. The client's TV's were on and breaking news broadcasts were proclaiming  major damage to the city of Whittier. I LIVED in Whittier  and was quite upset! I lived with a roommate at the time and was unable to reach her. I convinced my supervisor to let me leave at noon to go home and check out our home. The only damage was a crack in an outside wall. The major damage happened in uptown Whittier, about 6 miles from where we lived. At the time, I  attended a church  that was close to uptown Whittier, and there was some structural damage along with dumped files and bookcases in the offices.

 On the Saturday following the quake, I helped set up communion trays for Sunday's monthly service. (It was a large church and we needed to do this ahead of time) The women helping out joked that we hoped another quake did not occur and spill the numerous trays of  juice that we had stored in the refrigerator.
So-guess what happened? Yep- an aftershock! Except this seemed as big as the originating quake! Actually, it was a 5.5, but it was a different type of quake so felt more intense and it was still dark in the early Sunday  morning.  My bed was on wheels, and I was literally rolling side to side with the room swinging so hard I could not even get up out of the bed! I get Goosebumps just remembering that event. I have a friend who is a chemistry professor at Whittier College and she recently recalled the consequences of those earthquakes. She described to me that when they walked into the lab, chemicals had spilled out, containers were shattered on the floor, and there was a smoky mist in the room. She compared it to a scene from "Dante's Inferno."  Sounds very scary!
 
 
                Here is a news video of those quakes.                                                       http://wn.com/whittier_narrows_earthquake
 
The  Northridge Quake on January 17, 1994 at magnitude 6.7 was another historical quake in my life.  I was still living in Whittier at the time, but now, I was in my own apartment, and Stephanie had come to live with me just seven months prior. It was about 4:30 in the morning and I was up, being an early riser. I remember it being Martin Luther King holiday, and I was off work. I was also sick with what was soon to be diagnosed strep throat. I had taken a bag of trash out  to the dumpster, which was about 100 feet away and was returning, when that familiar rumble started. The neighbor's wind chimes were clashing like a fan blowing straight on them. I sped into the house to see Stephanie up and terrified. She was 11 and it was the first earthquake for her. The glass pendulum globe lamp was swinging in a wide arc and I was surprised that it didn't hit the wall and smash all over the floor. We did not have any damage, other than a few pictures falling off the wall. There was, however, major damage in Northridge, and Sylmar areas. Freeways collapsed, and the news showed cars dropping off into the chasms caused by the splitting of the roads. It was horrible.
 
Research for videos of this quake was very upsetting, so I'm opting not to show them- it's too sad to see the damage and the emotions the  cameras captured. You can check them out for yourself if you are interested. But it is hard to watch. 
 
 
In my job as administrator of 3 group home for adults with developmental disabilities, I have to ensure that the staff have monthly fire and disaster drills. In 2011, I signed up my homes to participate in the "Great California Shakeout". This is a yearly event where everyone does a drill at the appointed time that "The big one", a mass simulated drill, has occurred. In our case, our clients were at their day programs when the 10:20 AM drill on October 20 was to be held, so we did ours early. I downloaded the website's sound effect of the drill and took my computer into the house, yelling "EARTHQUAKE!" My staff, who have had on-going training on what to do, where laughing and thinking this was a fun joke. I was serious and very frustrated. I told them the house was collapsing and what were they going to do about it. Finally, I got them to be serious and to get the clients, who were all in wheelchairs, outside to a safe place.  I did this with all 3 homes- all with pretty much the same reaction. I could not believe that the staff seemed so unprepared for a real emergency. It was scary and made me realize that I should practice actual evacuations more often than the scenario drills. After the event was completed, and just because I wanted to, I wrote a long narrative on my experience and gave it to my supervisor, and that was the end of it. (Our company did get credit for doing a community service project.) I've not participated in the Great Shakeout since then as it was just too much effort, and my supervisors were not that impressed. Of course, I continue to train the staff on how to react in emergencies, but until it actually happens, they just do not take it seriously. (Very frustrating!)
 
I know I've been fortunate that thus far, my family and I have not been adversely affected by quake damage. But you just never know. They say the "Big One" will hit. It's just a matter of when that will be.

                                   So,  have you experienced any earthquakes?  How did you feel?

 
 

10 comments:

  1. Hi Barbara! I grew up in Memphis and we had one quake there. Nothing major, but enough that we all wondered what was going on. That area is on the San Andreas fault, and the last time there was a big quake the Mississippi River flowed backwards and several major lakes were formed. I think that was back in the 1800s? I hope I never go through another one. Thanks for posting!

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    1. That San Andreas is a big fault. I did not realize it went all the way across the states! It is very disconcerting to have the ground shaken, no matter the size of the quake.

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  2. Oh my stars! I cant even imagine! In NC we had a minor tremble while we were driving along the interstate. Kinda like walking over a suspension bridge. We didn't even know what it was at the time. Crazy that you all suffer through them so frequently. Wishing you a Son-kissed weekend, Barbara. :)

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    1. Thanks for the week-end wish! What I will be doing tomorrow will be in a near-future blog. Hope no quakes hit!

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  3. Oh, you have brought up so many earthquakes, but the one I knew the best was the first one in Sylmar. We lived just a few miles from the epicenter and had my dad been in his office he would have been crushed! After a couple months of aftershocks Dad gave up and moved us out of California back to Indiana. I was crushed! Talk about shaking up a life, I sympathize with you.

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    1. Oh that must have been so scary to be so close to the center! That gives me goose bumps about the possibility of your dad being caught up in the quake. Just a matter of timing!

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  4. I've never experienced a full on earthquake, just a few tremors and aftershocks. Two years ago there was one here in Virginia, nothing too bad but just enough to rattle things on the shelves and send me running outside just in case the house decided to collapse. I don't know if that was the best idea, but I had no clue what to do. Hurricanes are a different story. I've got plenty of experience with those.

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  5. Scary hurricanes! I will take earthquakes any day! They are over with before you know what happened rather than waiting out the storms.

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  6. Good for you on the drills and it's too bad they didn't take you seriously. Don't give up! Your vigilance will save lives.

    I've only been in one earthquake and it was so minor I thought a truck had rumbled by. It was in Michigan in 1987. It was a 5.7.

    But growing up in Kansas made me terrified of tornadoes. And I fear them more than an earthquake but all of them are obviously quite serious. We must memorize and pray Psalm 91!

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    1. I would be so scared in a tornado! At least an earthquake comes and goes so quick, we don't have time to be fearful.

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